Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) Program

To improve the health, safety and wellbeing of workers and others in the mining industry

About the MARS Program

The Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) Program is a whole-of-Government initiative that aims to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of workers and others in the mining industry.

This will be achieved with organisational and systemic change in three focus areas:

  • Creating mentally healthy workplaces
  • Building a culture of safety and respect
  • Preparing for workplace safety in the future mine.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) is working with the Mental Health Commission, the Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Communities to develop and deliver the program.

The MARS Program complements other work the McGowan Government is undertaking to eliminate sexual violence by implementing the Respect@Work report recommendations and developing the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Strategy.

The current situation 

The McGowan Government announced the establishment of the MARS Program on 11 December 2021 to address serious mental health, workplace culture and safety issues in the mining sector.

The Respect@Work Report, the Parliamentary Inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry, the introduction of the WHS Act, and the Productivity Commission's Mental Health Inquiry Report have all focused attention on issues regarding workplace health, safety and wellbeing.

On 23 June 2022, the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee tabled its report, Enough is Enough, into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry. The report makes 79 findings and 24 recommendations which are being considered by government.

The WA Government is considering the report and will table its response in Parliament on 22 September 2022.
DMIRS welcomes the inquiry and the Enough is enough report and is fully committed to supporting the changes that need to occur to resolve the serious issue of workplace sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry.

The MARS Program is a different way for the government to address these issues and effect change around the health, safety and wellbeing of workers and others in the mining sector.

It is not just about improving regulatory capability, it is also an opportunity to proactively engage industry and workers and provide whole-of-Government support to help them effect the changes required.

The McGowan Government recently announced an additional $6.5 million for the Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARS) program as part of the State Budget 2022-23.

Phase 1 of the MARS program

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The first phase of the MARS Program is designed to: 

  • ensure the extent of the health and safety issues in the mining industry are thoroughly understood to inform future policy funding decisions; and
  • make immediate impacts in key areas such as improving DMIRS regulatory capability and delivering mentally healthy initiatives.
  1. Landmark Study
    The State Government has engaged the Centre for Transformative Work Design (CTWD) to design and implement a research and evaluation project on mental health, sexual harassment, emerging mine safety issues and related workplace initiatives to improve mental health, wellbeing, culture and respect in the mining industry. . 

    The CTWD, part of the Future of Work Institute at Curtin University, will undertake this Landmark Study. It will obtain baseline data, provide information on the current state of the mining industry and existing initiatives. The Landmark Study will be completed over a four-year period; Preliminary findings are expected in September 2022 and will be used to further develop mental health and workplace culture initiatives and improve safety outcomes.
  2. Regulatory capability review

    The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) assists in the administration of Western Australia’s workplace health and safety laws, including reporting, inspection and regulation of health and safety issues within the mining industry. 

    On 7 July 2021, the Western Australian Parliament’s Community Development and Justice Standing Committee launched a formal inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry (Inquiry).  Through the Inquiry hearings, it became apparent that there is a lack of reporting to DMIRS of sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry. 

    DMIRS submission to the Inquiry expressed the department’s full commitment to supporting the changes that need to occur to resolve the serious issue of workplace sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry. 

    DMIRS takes the issue of workplace sexual harassment and assault very seriously and has made many improvements over recent years to enhance regulatory capability in this area. 

    In order to make further improvements, the State Government has engaged Elizabeth Shaw, Engagement Co-partner at PwC, to review and provide recommendations on improving DMIRS enforcement model and processes for responding to incidents of sexual harassment and assault in the mining industry. 

    The review will be completed in October 2022, and will provide a set of robust recommendations on how to improve processes, procedures, skill sets, systems and training to ensure DMIRS delivers a world class regulatory response. 

  3. Flagship Initiatives
    The mining industry is responsibility for driving cultural and behavioural change in its operations and decision making. With the right tools, resources and support from subject matter experts, workers should be empowered to contribute to a positive workplace environment. 

    In 2022, the MARS Program is funding initiatives to improve mental health and culture in the mining sector

    They include:
  • A Thrive at Work in Mining Masterclass Series will be held this year for senior Human Resources, Safety and Wellbeing Managers and Chief Executives in the mining industry.
    Thrive at Work is a ground-breaking workplace mental health and well-being initiative centred on designing work that supports employees, organisations and industry to thrive. Masterclass participants will be guided through the Thrive at Work framework to unpack how mining workplaces can support all employees to get well, stay well and be the best they can be.  Three toolkits will also be developed to provide mining workplaces with practical tools to tackle known health and safety risks to mental health in the mining industry.
  • Thriving in Mining (formerly This Mining Life) initiative will provide customised training and resources for the mining sector on mental health, wellbeing and the workplace. 
    Training modules will be designed for mining sector frontline managers and workers, and cover key concepts of mental health, respect, alcohol and other drugs and legal and moral rights and responsibilities.  An online version and an online learning platform to host the modules will be launched later this year to enable broad access to the training.
    The training modules will align to the existing Thrive at Work Framework, and utilise the Thrive at Work toolkit to embed the training into workplace practice. This initiative compliments the Thrive at Work in Mining Masterclass series by upskilling on-site supervisors and workers.
  • Respect in Mining is a collaboration with the Department of Communities and will implement a pilot initiative in a number of small-to-medium mining companies to engage workers about gendered drivers of violence, implement a whole-of-organisation approach to violence prevention and work to embed respectful relationships across the organisation.
  • Mentally Healthy Workplaces Grant Program will provide funding for mining sector initiatives that:
    • prevent mental injury and mental health conditions at work by managing work-related psychosocial hazards and their associated risks, and
    • promote positive practices at work that support worker mental health and wellbeing.

Successful grantees announced by the Minister on 21 June 2022 are: 

  • Resourceful Mind
    • Resourceful Mind is a peer support training program custom designed for the mining sector. It was created in partnership by Lifeline WA, Western Australia’s leader in suicide prevention, and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME WA). Resourceful Mind’s purpose is to reduce stigma about mental health, encourage people to seek help and support before they reach a crisis point, and to create accessible pathways for them to do so. Resourceful Mind is delivered 100% online to suit the sector and its workers. It uses a membership model which gives participants, called ‘Minders’ access to a suite of interactive and self-directed training, as well as skills development and coaching over a 12 month period.
  • Australian Institute of Health and Safety and FIFO Focus
    • AIHS and FIFO Focus are in partnership to develop and deliver a comprehensive four day accredited program (issuing continuous professional development points) in workplace psychosocial hazard identification, assessment and risk mitigation. The program will upskill a cross-section of key individuals (leaders, health and safety representatives and workers) in the workplace to identify, assess and mitigate psychosocial hazards in a systematic and sustainable way, rather than reactively respond to existing issues or provisional improvement notices.
    • The Grant allows AIHS to offer the course via a subsided-fee which will be used for the express purpose of reinvesting into extending the initiative by way of scholarships to be made available to participants to attend the course who are experiencing hardship or lack of available funds.

If you would like further information about any of these initiatives, or you are interested in getting involved in other aspects of the MARS Program, use the Expression of interest form below to provide your details.
 

Phase 2 of the MARS program

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The results of the Landmark Study and findings of the regulatory capability review will further inform the design of the MARS Program and guide future funding decisions (phase 2).

Aligned to the three MARS Program focus areas, key aspects will include the following:

  • Creation of a Professorial Chair in Work, Health and Safety in Mining at a Western Australian university 
  • Educational & professional development programs for workers 
  • Targeting the future workforce across high schools, VET/TAFE sector and Universities
  • Supporting women in the mining sector 
  • Ensuring all industry players have equal access to information and support
  • Addressing emerging safety risks and
  • Fostering innovation.
     

Resources - Mental Health

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The MARS Program team is working with a range of partners to achieve a whole-of-system change that supports mental health, wellbeing, respect and safety.  As part of this approach, services are available to individuals experiencing mental health or alcohol and other issues.

Other information and resources about mental health and wellbeing is also available, including ways for workers to support themselves and others.

Information about mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and alcohol and other drugs.

Support services and support lines for alcohol, other drugs and/or mental health

Mental Health Support Lines

Resources – Respect

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Treating someone with respect means that you interact with them in a way that shows that you care about their well-being and how they feel. When you respect someone, you treat them kindly and use good manners. Being respectful means you act in a way that shows care for how your actions may impact others.

We need to speak up and raise awareness about the importance of respect.

There are a range of support services to raise awareness of respect.

Resources – Sexual Harassment and Assault

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There are a range of support services for victims of sexual harassment and assault as well as support for perpetrators of violence to change their behaviour and for families that live in communities impacted by mining culture workplaces.

 

  • Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline: provides telephone information and referrals for men who are concerned about their violent and abusive behaviours, and for male victims of family and domestic violence in Western Australia. Phone: 1800 000 599.
  • Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline: provides support for women, with or without children, who are experiencing family and domestic violence in Western Australia (including referrals to women’s refuges). Phone: 1800 007 339.
  • Crisis Care: provides Western Australia’s after-hours response to reported concerns for a child’s safety and wellbeing and information and referrals for people experiencing crisis. Phone: 1800 199 008.
  • MensLine Australia: 24/7 support for men and boys dealing with family and relationship difficulties. Support for men who are concerned that their behaviour is hurting the people they care about. Phone: 1300 78 99 78.
  • Sexual Assault Resource Centre: provides a range of free services to people affected by sexual violence. Phone: (08) 6458 1828 or free call 1800 199 888.
  • Circle Green Community Legal is a community legal centre in WA providing state-wide specialist legal services in workplace and employment law, residential tenancy law, family and domestic violence, and humanitarian services aimed at assisting people who are otherwise disadvantaged in their access to legal services. Phone: (08) 6148 3636.

    The Circle Green has provided advice on “What to do if you are being sexually harassed at work“, available at Sexual-Harassment.pdf 
  • Victims of Crime support. Phone: (08) 9425 2850
  • WA Police Sexual Assault Squad : Phone (08) 9428 1600.
    Email: SexAssaultSquadSMAIL@police.wa.gov.au 
    SMS Assist© is a text messaging service for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech challenges, which can be used for contacting the WA Police Force and requesting non urgent assistance.
    To use SMS Assist© dial: 0403 277 478
     

Stakeholder information

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Media Statements

The State Government periodically releases media statements related to the MARS Program. Follow the links below to read specific media statements:

  1. Major boost for workplace mental health and mines safety – 22 June 2022
  2. Successful tender announced for mining workforce safety study – 4 May 2022
  3. Resources workforce safety program gets $6.5 million boost – 4 May 2022
  4. New safety program for Western Australia’s FIFO workforce – 11 December 2021
     

 

Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces

The Commission for Occupational Safety and Health has developed Mentally healthy workplaces codes of practice, which focus on different psychosocial areas and physical harms may also be experienced in a workplace:

  • Violence and aggression at work
  • Workplace behaviour
  • Psychosocial hazards in the workplace
  • Mentally healthy workplaces for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in the resources and construction sectors

Related links

  1. Mentally healthy workplaces
  2. Blueprint for Mentally Healthy Workplaces
  3. Mentally healthy workplaces (NSW)
  4. Mentally healthy workplaces toolkit (QLD)
  5. What is a healthy workplace
  6. WorkWell 
  7. Productivity Commission– Mental Health Inquiry Report 2020
  8. Mentally healthy workplaces codes of practice
  9. Equal Opportunity Commission
  10. Australian Human Rights Commission
  11. Information sheet - Gendered violence: Sexual harassment | DMIRS
  12. Information sheet - Gendered violence: Sexual assault | DMIRS
     

Training

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Department of Communities

Respectful Relationship Approaches

Further information will be made available shortly on a whole of organisation approach to address and prevent gendered drivers of sexual harassment in the workplace and steps to embed gender equality polices that benefit all employees. 

WA Respectful Relationships Teaching Support Program

Our Watch – Workplace Equality and Respect
Our Watch

Our Watch is a national leader in the development of evidence based resources to inform a coordinated approach to preventing violence against women. You can access these resources to embed approaches in your workplace to address and prevent sexual harassment and violence against women. 
 

Equal Opportunity Commission

Community education and training
The Commission’s education team has a unique range of expertise and practical experience in the areas of education and training, law, human resources, organisational change, and community development.

Expression of interest form

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Subscribe to the newsletter for updates on the latest news, work in progress and upcoming events relevant to the program.

MARS Program leaflets

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The MARS Program team have developed single-page leaflets on each aspect of the MARS Program. Each leaflet provides a high level overview of an initiative and readers are encouraged to download and reproduce the material for marketing purposes.

Page reviewed 25 November 2022